Guest Blog (Michael Givel): Can Oklahoma replicate Maryland's Genuine Progress Indicator?

by | May 30th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, Economy | Comments (0)

Dr. Michael Givel is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Oklahoma

What’s the best way to measure social progress? For decades, the United States and other nations have primarily measured social progress by the economic measure of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, recently, a growing chorus has expressed considerable concerns that GDP is an inadequate measurement of well-being because it fails to assess important factors like environmental degradation and social factors like poverty and income inequality.  Dissatisfaction with GDP  has led to a growing number of alternative indicators that now simultaneously measure economic, environmental, and social factors. In 2009, Maryland became the first state to develop an alternative GDP measure, when it created the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI). Oklahoma should consider moving down the same road.

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Upcoming Event: Oklahoma Assets High Cost Lending Summit, June 12th

Oklahomans turn to high-cost lenders at a much higher rate than the national average.  Low- and moderate-income households are particularly likely to turn to loan products with high interest rates that chip away at their disposable income.

Join Us for the High Cost Lending Summit 
We invite you to attend a 1-day High Cost Lending Summit, on June 12, 2012 to be held at the Reed Conference Center in Midwest City.  The summit will facilitate information sharing on the extent and impact of the problem and promote lower-cost alternatives for families struggling to avoid high-cost lenders.  Registration for the Summit is $50 and includes all conference sessions, educational materials to take home or share with collegaues, meals for the day, and an annual membership in Oklahoma Assets (valued at $25).  If you’re interested, click on an option below:

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In The Know: Chesapeake's ties to Thunder questioned

by | May 30th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that Chesapeake’s spending on the Oklahoma City Thunder is being questioned as a conflict of interest since CEO Aubrey McClendon owns a large stake in the team. This Land Press examined what might happen if OKC loses Chesapeake Energy. StateImpact Oklahoma reports on how Oklahoma natural gas producer are trying to reinvent themselves as oil companies.

The Tulsa Chamber and County officials say the $90 million airport tax proposal floated by City Council members should be much larger. A member of the Oklahoma Commission for Human Services was publicly reprimanded for having a conflict of interest because he serves as executive director of a nonprofit that receives DHS subsidies for providing services to low-income children. Commissioner Stephen Dow said his position at Community Action Project was cleared by Governor Henry’s legal staff as not being a conflict before he was appointed.

The OK Policy Blog examines a new report showing it is harder to get ahead in Oklahoma than most other states. NewsOK writes that Oklahoma is overdue for a realistic conversation about how expensive it will be to reach education goals. Governor Fallin signed bills to move pet breeder oversight to the Department of Agriculture and continue allowing state employees to make charitable contributions through payroll deductions. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal by a man attempting to claim copyright on the phrases “Go Thunder” and “Let’s Go Thunder”.

The Number of the Day is the percentage of student loans in Oklahoma that were delinquent in the 4th quarter of 2011. In today’s Policy Note, Demos examines the hidden costs of 401(k) retirement plans that can consume nearly one-third of investment returns with excessive fees.

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New study: Harder to get ahead in Oklahoma than most other states

by | May 29th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, Economy, Financial Security | Comments (0)

The ‘American Dream’ is pervasive in our collective discourse and consciousness.  Rooted in the founding documents and political mythology of the United States, it evokes an ethos of equal opportunity, regardless of one’s social class or original circumstance.  It’s an optimistic ideal that people across the country and from all walks of life continue to value today; for millions of Americans however, that dream is more myth than reality.  A new study from the Pew Research Center set out to evaluate a core component of the American Dream state by state – are workers climbing the economic ladder over their lifetime?  Oklahoma ranked near the bottom among states in terms of the economic mobility of its residents.

The Pew study explored the prospects for economic advancement during Oklahomans’ prime working years, between ages 35 and 49.  Economic advancement was measured quite simply by a person’s earnings.  Basically, did an individual’s earnings increase over time, and if so, by how much?  In terms of simple ‘absolute mobility,’ Oklahoma residents had less economic mobility on average than residents of most other states – with the exception of Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, South Carolina, and West Virginia.

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In The Know: Tests block 2,000 Oklahoma high school students from receiving diplomas

by | May 29th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that end-of-instruction testing requirement are preventing 2,000 Oklahoma high school students from receiving diplomas. An informal survey by The Tulsa World found that most students who have not completed the requirement have special needs or do not know English well enough yet.

The Associated Press and Okie Funk analyze why every proposal to cut the income tax failed this year. Oklahoma taxpayers may be out up to $160 million because a Bank of Oklahoma subsidiary is claiming it should have gotten tax credits on an $800 million investment made four years ago. Oklahoma’s new laws that give employers much greater latitude to drug-test employees.

A new report points to modest gains over the past two years in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in Oklahoma higher education. Eighteen legislative races will be determined by Republican primaries and one by a Democratic primary on June 26. The Tulsa World profiled Rep. Rebecca Hamilton, the legislator who was most often the only no vote on bills, and Rep. Mike Reynolds, who made the most no votes.

The Number of the Day is the minimum age at which an Oklahoma child can be prosecuted in criminal court as an adult. In today’s Policy Note, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reports on the 1 in 10 nonelderly veterans who do not have health insurance. Oklahoma has the fifth highest veterans uninsurance rate in the nation, at 13.8 percent.

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The Weekly Wonk: May 25, 2012

by | May 25th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (0)

What’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk is dedicated to this week’s events, publications, and blog posts.

This week OK Policy released a statement in response to the announcement that there will be no tax cut this session.  We released a graph with analysis showing how state support for schools has been falling, while enrollment rises.  Guest blogger Dr. Steve Ellis revealed the intellectual bankruptcy behind tax-cut arguments.

Our work was featured in an Associated Press article and a NewsOn6 story covering the final days of the legislature’s budget and tax negotiations.  Our Director David Blatt made the case for tax fairness in The Journal Record.  OK Policy analyst Kate Richey was featured in an OETA segment on low economic mobility in Oklahoma.

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STATEMENT: Failure of tax cuts is great outcome for Oklahoma

by | May 25th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, Taxes | Comments (1)

Oklahoma Policy Institute released the following statement in response to the announcement that there will be no tax cut this session:

The failure of every tax cut proposal that was debated this session is a victory for Oklahoma. The Legislature heeded Oklahomans from all walks of life who have spoken out against income tax cuts. After three straight years of budget cuts that have seriously weakened core services, Oklahomans have stated clearly that their top priorities are restoring funding for education, fixing the child welfare system, repairing our roads and bridges, and making other critical investments that will promote our prosperity and security. We have not made sufficient progress towards these goals, but preserving our largest revenue source leaves us in much better position to tackle our challenges in the years ahead.

The decision to reject tax cuts this year was especially responsible given the uncertainties in the energy industry and the broader state economy. We applaud those leaders who insisted that tax cuts must be paid for and who rejected efforts to tie the hands of future legislators with automatic triggers.

We know, however, that this is just a brief intermission in a long battle over the right tax policy for Oklahoma. Going forward, we must have a more honest and well-informed debate about what we expect from state government, how much our obligations will cost, and how we will pay for them. We need to look with renewed seriousness at our outdated tax system and do away with unnecessary tax preferences. And we must improve tax fairness and not allow middle- and low-income families to shoulder a larger share of the load.

In The Know: Oklahoma’s personal income tax rate won’t be cut this year

by | May 25th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

House and Senate Republicans deadlocked on cutting the personal income tax and Gov. Fallin said she wouldn’t call a special session to reach a resolution.  The legislature approved a $6.8 billion budget bill to pay for state government to operate in the upcoming fiscal year.  Superintendent Janet Barresi announced she would hold back a third of schools’ textbook money to plug holes in the Education Department’s budget.

The Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education said that flat funding for higher education likely means tuition increases.  The Tulsa World Editorial writers surveyed the cumulative damage from years of reduced or standstill public education budgets.  The Board of Education voted to automatically grant high school diplomas to students who have been admitted to a college or university with a criteria-based admissions process, but failed high-stakes graduation tests.

The Senate approved a ballot measure that will ask voters to abolish the Commission for Human Services, which oversees OKDHS.  The House defeated a bond issue for repairs to the Capitol building; the Senate rejected a bond issue to complete the unfinished American Indian Cultural Center, and approved a $20 million bond proposal for a popular culture museum.  The Oklahoma Senate approved legislation to prohibit the use of foreign law in state courts.

In today’s Policy Note, Economic Policy Institute investigates whether the declining labor force participation rate is more influenced by unemployment in the aftermath of the Great Recession, or is a result of long-run trends.  The Number of the Day is the percentage of vehicle crashes in Oklahoma that occurred during inclement weather.

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Upcoming Event: Ethics, Disasters & Well-Being in Rural Communities, June 1-2

by | May 24th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, Upcoming Events | Comments (0)

To support current and upcoming professionals, Oklahoma State University and the Oklahoma Geriatric Education Center are working together through a consortium partnership to enhance the professional practices of health care professionals, aging-care providers, community members, and social service providers.  Their annual conference ‘Linking Gerontology & Geriatrics: Addressing Ethics, Disasters & Well-Being in Rural Communities’ will be held on June 1st and 2nd at the Wes Watkins Center at Oklahoma State University.

Building on the 2011 Linking Gerontology and Geriatrics Annual Conference, this year’s conference has three primary tracks: Bioethics and Ethics, Disaster Prevention and Health and Well-being.  Dr. Miriam Kelty will present a keynote address concerning the ethical principles applicable to service delivery and research relating to older adults and advances in research and technology. Dr. Kelty is a consultant for domestic institutions and international organizations on research ethics, scientific integrity, research strategies and aging.

Conference participants will: (a) use evidence-based information to enhance the best practices of health care and other professionals working with older adults in rural communities, and (b) identify the links between gerontology and geriatrics.  Click here for a conference program and click here to register for the event.

 

In The Know: House won't hear tax cut agreement, unveils another new proposal

by | May 24th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that House won’t support the tax cut agreement reached with the Senate and Governor and has offered another new proposal, leaving open the possibility that a tax cut may not be approved before the Legislature adjourns Friday. OK Policy released a statement on the newest House plan. David Blatt writes in The Journal Record that Oklahoma’s state and local taxes already fail the fairness test, and lawmakers’ tax cut plans would make them even more unfair. Dr. Steve Ellis writes in the OK Policy Blog that The Wall Street Journal reveals the intellectual bankruptcy of the tax-cut case.

Bonds for state Capitol repairs and the American Indian Cultural Center failed to get approval. A $20 million bond for the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture in Tulsa is still alive but faces an uncertain future in the House. The Oklahoman writes that cuts to the state’s EDGE fund have killed a program that was creating Oklahoma jobs. StateImpact Oklahoma profiles a program to provide job training and reduce recidivism among inmates, which has been significantly reduced by budget cuts. The OK Policy Blog previously discussed how Oklahoma is putting counterproductive restrictions on employment for ex-felons.

EMSA’s board voted to pursue a possible investigative audit of the agency through the state Auditor and Inspector’s Office. A new report finds Oklahoma has the sixth highest rate of injury deaths in the U.S. The Number of the Day is the proportion of older Oklahomans for whom Social Security is their only source of income. In today’s Policy Note, Robert Reich explains why fairness is essential to growth.

continue reading In The Know: House won't hear tax cut agreement, unveils another new proposal